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Susanne Schuler

Crowne Finch

Consultant

Read more about Susanne Schuler

Blog: Back to basics – Getting to the essence of HR

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Time and again we hear “if only HR could get the basics right?”. Everyone nods sagely and HR takes one on the chin! But what if we think differently about what the basics should be.

There is the simple basic of “pay people correctly, on time”. Hear Hear!
 
But is this really HR’s accountability? Why doesn’t this belong to Finance? After all they are responsible for ensuring every other financial transaction takes place correctly, for the correct amount, to the correct person/firm (and is paid only once!).
 
What then about the basic of getting contracts of employment right. Sure, but why doesn’t the legal department take care of this, along with every other legally binding contract? This is their specialism isn’t it? This redistribution could be applied to almost everything on the traditional list of “administrative basics”:
 
  • Operational Training? Ask the line managers in your organisation who do they think should be training their staff? HR or themselves?
  • Hiring? Most of HR ourselves will say that the best recruitment is done by the Line Manager.
  • Employee Relations? Easily done in most instances with the support of legal or specialist advisory teams provided over the internet, or by pay-as-you-go / on-demand service providers
 
And so it goes on. We’re only playing with ideas here, but if we took this point of view seriously, and redistributed these administrative accountabilities to other (more suitable?) functions within the organisation, then as these ‘basics’ go to others what should be the ‘new HR basics’?
 
If we are no longer burdened by administrative basics, then what should we focus on?
 
The answer to this should emerge from HR’s core purpose. And clarity of purpose is crucial. Great to have your own, better still to have one that HR and the business have jointly developed and co-own. If your agreed mandate for HR is organisational effectiveness, or organisational sustainability then another set of basic ‘basics’ emerge:
 
  • Getting organisation structures, accountabilities and performance criteria right
  • Diagnosing the people and organisational root causes of complex business challenges
  • Ensuring governance and decision making is clear, effective and operates as it should do at all levels
  • Dispute between key stakeholders are mediated and resolved
  • Getting values and ethics at the heart of leadership behaviour and operational activity
 
These are less tangible, cross more boundaries, and pack a heavier punch than ‘HR as used to be’ basics, but basics nonetheless. Basics that cannot be delegated to finance, legal, operations, IT. Basics that take us right back to the heart of HR – getting people to work together, more effectively.
 
 
Susanne Schuler is a consultant at HR transformation specialist, Crowne Finch.
 

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Susanne Schuler

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